HomeNewsIsland & CoastBC Wildfire Service says record breaking wildfires helping to draw high applicant...

BC Wildfire Service says record breaking wildfires helping to draw high applicant numbers

While not a record, BC Wildfire Service says they are seeing a high volume of applicants which may help if 2024 becomes another devastating season.

According to minister of Forests Bruce Ralston, the service has got around 1,700 applications this year and it is an encouraging sign.

“I think the season last year was so intense that it did attract a lot of public attention, and I think that reflects public anxiety about what we experienced last summer and what we might experience in the summer to come,” said Ralston.

“The season for applications has been a bit longer and it’s been a bit more intense.”

Ralston adds that so far, ministry staff have interviewed over 500 applicants for this upcoming season. He says there is always turnover from season to season since many college and university students work in the summer and choose not to return.

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He says they also have a goal of making the wildfire service a year-round service, instead of just seasonal.

“Although, the bulk of the action will still be in the summer, but it begins earlier and the seasons are continuing longer,” said Ralston.

Even with the rise in applications, public concern is at the forefront of decision making, according to the ministry. A task force last year looked at areas that may need improvement, that included the application and training system.

Ralston says that includes a training and recruitment model, and a boot camp will be coming up in Parksville this spring. The recruitment ramp up is in preparation for a potentially difficult season with a continuing drought and low snowpack.

“Climate change is bringing dramatic changes to the prospects of wildfire in the province and indeed across the country,” said Ralston. “We want to be prepared, we want to make sure the public, communities and families are safe.”

He adds another key aspect to fighting fires will be building relationships with municipal fire departments and creating more integration. That includes joint training between BC Wildfire and municipal departments.

Ralston says over 170 municipal departments participated in the firefighting last summer.

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